WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that relations between the United States and Israel, frayed in recent months over nuclear negotiations with Iran and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress, ought to return to a "constructive footing."
In a phone discussion with Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Clinton also reaffirmed her support for a two-state solution as a means of resolving the long-standing conflict in the Middle East.
“Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue," read a statement posted by San Diego Jewish World on Sunday evening.
Tensions between the two nations escalated in the wake of U.S. negotiations with Iran over the future of its nuclear program, a course of action opposed by Netanyahu and congressional Republicans alike. Commenting on the Israeli election, which saw Netanyahu's Likud party retain control of the legislature, President Barack Obama expressed dismay with the prime minister's last-minute election rhetoric against Arab voters and his statement in opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state.
"We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership, and so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region," Obama said in an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month.
For Clinton, who is expected to declare her bid for president sometime next month, the matter is a delicate one. Division among American Jews over recent U.S.-Israel spats would complicate her outreach and efforts to unify supporters in the Democratic Party and beyond, which perhaps explains her wish that Israel ought to never become "a partisan issue."